Is theistic evolution or evolutionary creation as we prefer able to be reconciled to the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith BASF which is the most commonly used statement of faith for Christadelphians? Christadelphians historically recognise the statement of faith is a product of the time, human rather than inspired and should not be read at a word for word level eg see here. However, in response to Christadelphians accepting the reality of evolution, some have promoted new and narrow ways of reading the statement of faith to try and exclude evolutionary creation. The first principle must be that any statement of faith is read through the lens of the Bible, not the other way around. The meaning must be derived from the Bible, lest we add to it. Some argue we have to interpret the BASF in line with the then current understanding of those who drafted the statement of faith.
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The Unamended Christadelphians are a "fellowship" within the broader Christadelphian movement worldwide, found only in the United States and Canada. They are, like all Christadelphians , millennialist and non-Trinitarian. The term Unamended Christadelphians is not the formal name of this community but is used informally to identify the grouping since a statement of faith traditionally used by many in this community is the "Unamended Statement of Faith".
In general the following description of doctrine is also true of all Christadelphians worldwide. The particular clauses relating to Christ's "condemned nature" and to the effects of baptism may be more distinctive to traditional Unamended Christadelphian positions in North America, though these are not held by all Unamended Christadelphians. Unamended Christadelphians are staunchly non-Trinitarian. The belief that Jesus Christ is not co-equal or co-eternal with but rather subordinate to God the Father is a fundamental doctrine.
As such, these doctrines are contrary to the Nicene Creed. The group, while non-Trinitarian, are not adoptionists. An additional distinguishing feature of doctrine is the teaching on the nature of man, particularly the rejection of a belief in a Platonic immortal soul. Unamended Christadelphians contend the Bible does not teach the soul is an immortal component of mankind.
Hell is merely the grave. In addition to teaching the complete mortality of mankind, Unamended Christadelphians also teach that because of Adam and Eve 's disobedience in the Garden of Eden , mankind is inherently sinful and separated from God from birth. Through breaking God's law they created a breach in their relationship with God, and were destined to die. Humans inherit this fallen nature from their progenitors, Adam and Eve. By birth, mankind is separated from God. Unamended Christadelphians believe that because Adam and Eve ceased to be very good, their children could not be born very good, or of a nature that is acceptable to God.
This understanding is used to explain infant deaths. No person is held personally responsible or guilty for Adam's transgression. This understanding of the nature of man extends to Jesus Christ, since he was born of a woman. The Unamended teach Jesus, like all mankind, was born into a state separated from God. Despite having a sinful nature as the result of his humanity he did not commit any personal sins, making him the only acceptable sacrifice to atone for the condemned nature of mankind.
His sacrificial death shedding of blood was necessary to atone for the condemned nature he had like all mankind. He was not a substitute for all men, but a representative, because he also benefited from the redemptive work of his death.
Unamended Christadelphians believe that a correct understanding of God's plan, a life lived in accordance with God's values and Christ's commandments, and baptism into Christ's name are necessary for salvation. By baptism, mankind may also escape their inherited condemnation to death and enter an atoned state, justified before God. Following the New Testament examples, only adult immersions are considered valid baptisms. The Unamended do not baptize infants, or those who do not profess a knowledge of and agree with these outlined doctrinal positions.
Faithful service is required after baptism for salvation; however, they widely believe that salvation cannot be earned, but that it is the free gift of God to those children of His that faithfully seek Him, through His son, Jesus Christ. Since, under Unamended Christadelphian doctrines, the hope of mankind does not depend on an immortal soul, the group proclaims a bodily resurrection of the dead at the literal return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
The purpose of resurrection is for judgment of the servants of Jesus Christ. This eschatological interpretation of Biblical prophecy means the Unamended Christadelphians are millennialists. Unamended Christadelphians see the return of Jesus as setting up the literal kingdom of Israel on earth.
Further distinguishing the Unamended Christadelphians from other Christian denominations is the absence of any church hierarchy or compensated clergy. See Organization below. The group believes in an inerrancy of the Bible and no other word of modern or ancient times is considered divinely inspired. The Christadelphians were founded through the preaching efforts of a British physician, John Thomas — Son of a pastor, Thomas emigrated to America in , settling in Cincinnati, Ohio.
There he meet Alexander Campbell and began preaching for Campbellite movement. By Thomas had concluded that adults who had been previously baptized by a different denomination had to be re-immersed in order to join the Campbellites. This view was not held by Campbell, and within the year Campbell disfellowshipped Thomas. Also during the final years with the Campbellites, Dr Thomas began proclaiming a bodily resurrection at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
During his tenure with the Campbellites, Thomas had gained some influence, to the extent that some in Richmond, Virginia and New York City left the Campbellites and formed new meetings in line with Thomas' teachings.
The name Christadelphian originated in the days of the American Civil War. Brethren in Freeport, Illinois were threatened with conscription in In common with other groupings those associated with Thomas were not known or recognized as a denomination, since no single name was used to identify the members in North America or Britain.
In order to obtain exemption, the name Christadelphians was selected. With the death of Thomas in , Christadelphian meetings continued. Since no formal hierarchical structure existed within Christadelphians see Organization , the death of the founding member was a sad occurrence, but did not result in a collapse of the denomination.
Lippy commented this phenomenon was one of the unique features of Christadelphians. Scriptural instruction and cohesion was aided by the work of Roberts in Birmingham, England in the s and in the s Thomas Williams in Chicago, Illinois. Both men traveled to local meetings edifying the brotherhood, and served as editors of The Christadelphian and The Christadelphian Advocate  periodicals, respectively. Local statements of faith had been written by local congregations since the s, but formal declarations of faith determining fellowship were not utilized until —64, the years when Christadelphians began to change from an informal movement into a defined denomination.
In America the registration of "groups of believers" and the coining of the name Christadelphian Ogle County Illinois, coincided with the British arm of the movement taking a fixed stand against belief in a supernatural devil Edinburgh, The statement of faith or creed , or confession of faith used by most Unamended Christadelphians today has its origins in the statement of faith of the Birmingham Central Ecclesia, Britain known as the Birmingham Statement of Faith, or BSF.
This statement was partly a response to a doctrinal dispute — between congregations in Britain. Turney essentially preached Jesus Christ was "not born of a condemned nature" that is a "free life" and therefore he did not benefit in any way from his own death.
The BSF already had some informal status as a benchmark in Britain and overseas due to the Birmingham Central Ecclesia being where the editorship of The Christadelphian Magazine was based at the time, but equally local ecclesias usually had their own local statements with similar wording, and continued to do. This statement of beliefs became basis of fellowship for the majority of Christadelphian meetings in England and North America. Those disagreeing with the Birmingham positions left fellowship.
During the next ten years the organization and wording of the statement was revised, but no doctrinal changes were made. A significant change was the addition of a "Foundation Clause" in about inspiration. This removed a large part of the British Christadelphian movement into the "Suffolk St. Williams also approved Robert's position related to Edward Turney 12 years earlier,  though Turney's Nazarene fellowship had already effectively petered out with his death in and the return to the main grouping of his supporter David Handley in Since Christadelphians teach a bodily resurrection and judgment at the return of Jesus Christ to earth, the controversy was over who would be resurrected and called to judgment.
The statement of the North London ecclesia in read "Resurrection affects those only who are responsible to God by a knowledge of His revealed will". In J. Andrew of North London published a booklet 'Blood of the Covenant' in which he argued that no unbaptised would be raised and judged.
The controversy continued — Andrew was left to A. Some Christadelphians consider that there are larger doctrinal implications involving the change. For example, Williams, Lippy,  Farrar,  and Pursell  outline larger doctrinal problems.
There are also Christadelphians who consider this a stand-alone issue, and point to the fact that no other clause of the BSF was amended. In theory the change made recognition that some unbaptised would be raised and judged a requirement of fellowship. However this was not pushed outside London and other areas like Yorkshire where Andrew's influence had been strongest.
The London Clapham brethren led by Frank Jannaway urged all ecclesias who did not already have "amendments" prior to to adopt the new Birmingham amendment, and made it a fellowship issue in London, although the new editor Charles Curwen Walker in Birmingham and his assistant Henry Sulley in Nottingham did not push the issue. In the U. Subsequently, J. Andrew separated from most of his own supporters, including John Owler of Barnsbury Hall, Islington ecclesia in London, and Albert Hall of the Sowerby Bridge ecclesia in Yorkshire, and Andrew was reportedly rebaptised in , dying in Williams visited Britain in —04 at Owler and Hall's invitation, supporting their position against the "amendment", also urging the British "Unamended" known as the "Up and be doing" movement not to join with the large "Suffolk St" group.
In , the BUSF was revised and clarified in both title and in six propositions. The amendment in the UK had little lasting effect other than moving a number of meetings from "Central" to "Suffolk St" groupings. From — the "Amended" community in North America again divided, again following the lines of a local split in London, England, with the majority forming the "Berean Fellowship" in North America. The minority in North America who remained in fellowship with Britain became known as "Central Fellowship".
In a reunion in , The Jersey City Resolution , the two Amended groups were reconciled and today the terms "Central" and "Amended" are used interchangeably in North America. This split — did not affect the Unamended community.
In two further reunions in Britain and Australia corrected an earlier division dating from between "Suffolk Street" and "Central". This had the effect of uniting almost all Christadelphians outside North America into one grouping. Those in Central who held that the reasons for separation from the Suffolk Street Fellowship remained, opposed the re-union and formed the Old Paths Fellowship.
From the s onwards various attempts have been made to bring about reunion in North America, but have made little progress outside of the Pacific Coast, where all Christadelphians are now "Central".
Reunion efforts continue in the Midwest and Canada. The current situation is complicated by the presence of a part of the Unamended grouping who hold views compatible with the main worldwide body of Christadelphians and who have succeeded in doctrinal agreement with the "Amended" arm of that body in North America, but have not so far found ways to implement that doctrinal agreement as a basis for fellowship.
The fourth grouping in terms of numbers the Berean Christadelphians , stand aside from all unity discussions as an exclusive fellowship. As described by Wilson  and Lippy,  in general aside from the progress, or otherwise, of local and national unity efforts, Christadelphians in North America continue to regard members of other fellowships as "brethren" and inside the larger denominational circle.
Locating the Unamended Christadelphians within larger Christendom is not an easy endeavor. As outlined above, the group's doctrinal positions are contrary to most mainstream Christianity, and are recognized to view both Catholic and Protestant denominations as having lost the 1st century beliefs of the apostles. The previously mentioned references classify Christadelphians as a denomination, but few make the distinction between the differing fellowships.
The fundamental organizational unit of the Unamended Christadelphians is the local ecclesia. Ecclesias were located in twenty-six states and two Canadian provinces.
There are approximately 50, Christadelphians in around countries. Claiming to base their beliefs solely on the Bible , Christadelphians differ from mainstream Christianity in a number of doctrinal areas. For example, they reject the Trinity and the immortality of the soul , believing these to be corruptions of original Christian teaching. They were initially found predominantly in the developed English-speaking world, but expanded in developing countries after the Second World War.
The history of the BASF
The Unamended Christadelphians are a "fellowship" within the broader Christadelphian movement worldwide, found only in the United States and Canada. They are, like all Christadelphians , millennialist and non-Trinitarian. The term Unamended Christadelphians is not the formal name of this community but is used informally to identify the grouping since a statement of faith traditionally used by many in this community is the "Unamended Statement of Faith". In general the following description of doctrine is also true of all Christadelphians worldwide.
Christadelphian statement of faith
This paragraph was added in He hath, out of His own underived energy, created heaven and earth, and all that in them is. That Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, begotten of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, without the intervention of man, and afterwards anointed with the same Spirit, without measure, at his baptism. That the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth on the earth was necessitated by the position and state into which the human race had been brought by the circumstances connected with the first man. That the first man was Adam, whom God created out of the dust of the ground as a living soul, or natural body of life, "very good" [Publisher's Note: Gen.